Alec Ash’s April 1 joke about fixed gear bikes being banned around the Drum and Bell neighborhood, that roost for Beijing hipsters, was closer to truth than we imagined. As Abe Sauer of Brand Channel points out in his recently published piece:
China’s brewing war on fixies, the ubiquitous accessory of US hipster culture and an increasingly popular creative outlet for free expression for China’s similarly hip youth, is very real. And further actions like those in Fujian and Beijing could turn out to be a blow to a market that is just beginning to blossom.
“If the ‘fixie’ has no brakes, it cannot be ridden on the road and the police will punish riders according to the law,” read the March 26 declaration from the Beijing Morning Post. The Post had noted that in Fujian’s Zhangzhou city, a 13 year-old girl riding a fixie without brakes was recently killed in a traffic accident.
On April 1, the same day the foreigner blog posted its April Fool’s joke about a fixie ban, Xinhua reported that Zhangzhou had banned fixies and The Fujian Provincial Educational Department was calling for an educational campaign that, amongst other things, included ten minutes at the end of the school day to “warn students about fixed-gear bikes and other unsafe transport means.”
Sauer’s article goes on to explain that locals hold misconceptions about what a “fixie” actually is (in Chinese, it’s called 死飞 [sǐfēi] bikes, literally “death flight”), and wonders whether increased regulation will curb fixie growth.
Discuss hipsters below. Feel free to take Morgan’s advice and focus-fire.
Will China’s War on Fixie Bikes Slam Brakes on Growing Hipster Culture? (Brand Channel) (Image via)
Thing is, most Chinese bikes have brakes, but they are never used.
Fixies just cut down on manufacturing waste.
Thing on wheels needs brakes, I know, crazy idea. Ban the fuck out of them.
It is urgent that the government heeds the call to crack down on these death-flight machines! I fully support the complete ban of all bicycles within the 6th Ring Road until it can be ensured that every last one of these monstrosities are safely removed from our city.
It’s not accurate to call it a ban. You just need to put brakes on the bike.
Agreed bikes should have brakes but the issue should be much more a massive campaign on getting people to know traffic rules and then enforcing them. people get killed by cars, buses, from jaywalking or in regular bike accidents but we are not going to ban all these things. most of the times people get killed because they ignored safety, drove drunk or due to equipment failure. so enforce brakes…. wake up and force people to pass some kind of test before they can go on the road but the current situation where most two wheel vehicles in china are illegal but most of the time tolerated is not the solution because then no one cares. I got stopped today in shanghai and was told my bakfiets was not legal in china. my company operates trucks and we recently had to guarantee our drivers abide by traffic rules, and in order to do that we had to put a poster in the office then show the local police a picture of our drivers in front of this poster…. i was probably the safest cyclist there with my helmet, my light and so on and had actually yielded to let this policeman who had just passed a red light through…. Knowing there are actually no such rules given that first traffic rules are in general local and second i doubt they have seen abakfiets before, i asked why. This is the first time in 5 months since i switched from a scooter and i feel it is a much safer vehicle. That policeman told me that it is the law but was not able to say what law or why. Since he told me to walk home and did not even attempt a fine, i do think there is no such regulations and there lies the issue… people still do what they want and no one cares about rules… and to those who don’t like bikes then don’t ride them. I have a car and bikes so i am not an extremist but i do think they ard the best form of transport in an urban setting… i will be checking if i can get my bike rdgistered though…..
I was going to bitch around about China regulating every inch and bit of fun and modern culture. BUT: Actually it is not legal to ride fixies without brakes in most western countries, including the US, UK, Germany etc. In most of these countries you need to install at least a front brake in order to officially be allowed to ride it in public streets. So actually this case doesn’t count as China being a super restrictive place. But I agree with the point that less cars, especially within 2nd ring road would be much more effective in making traffic safer …
This formed part of my election campaign back home:
“Tough on hipsters; tough on the causes of hipsters”
Surely I’m behind the times and lacking coolness, but what exactly makes having a bike without brakes “hip” and why are they desirable?